Slum-children in Dharavi, Mumbai learn English Alphabets


Last summer, I traveled to Mumbai in India for a couple of months, and I was troubled by the children who beg for money. Do I give them money or food or neither? If I give money, exploitative adults may take it. My family regularly contributes to Indian charities, but that is small relief in these miserable plight.

Your desire to help a child in distress is commendable, whichever of those options you choose. But I chose a different road to make those children self-reliable. Those Children were illiterate so I thought of teaching them the English Language. The challenge was to begin from the base that is teaching them alphabets.

I love exposing young children to letters! It is so fun to see them find letters in their environment and connect letters they know in their name. As we all know, letters and letters sounds are the foundation to our English language so identifying letters and the sounds they make is very important.

To say if only I can say my School was under a tree in Dharavi, the slum in Mumbai. Dharavi is the largest slum in Asia and one of the largest slums in the world. Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire” was shot as well in this slum. The railway station was very close to the area. During teaching, we used to get the train sound.

Most of the children who came to learn the English language were basically child labor- factory-workers and rag-pickers. To make alphabet learning not a struggle but fun I got some activities. The activities included Letter Picture Cards, Large letters (for creating letter art), Letter Poem, Letter Snack and Sensory Ideas, Letter Book, Dot paint letters, Letter Flipbook, Letter Hunt, Letter Puzzles, Letter Lacing, Letter Size Up, Letter Writing, Letter Match-Up and Letter Sort.

The children found learning English alphabets extremely interesting. These children were amazing learners. They are great fun to be with. Given the opportunity, they too can experience an incredible India and participate in the exercise of nation building. Education can transform them from dependents to driving forces. In the words of H. H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and I quote “Education is a vehicle for transformation or metamorphosis of the self and an aid to the growth of economy.”



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